Rural electrification, electrification inequality and democratic institutions in sub-Saharan Africa

Philipp Trotter

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While it is commonly believed that democracy influences public service provision, comparably few studies have assessed how recent democratisation in developing countries has impacted tangible public service outcomes for economically deprived population shares. Using panel data from 46 sub-Saharan African countries between 1990 and 2010 as well as qualitative country case examples from Ghana, Swaziland, Uganda, Senegal and Rwanda, this paper examines considerable and growing rural electrification variations in terms of political, economic and demographic variables. The analyses suggest that democracy is strongly associated with rural electrification increases and rural versus urban electrification inequality decreases in sub-Saharan Africa. This result is robust to a variety of political, economic and demographic control variables as well as different econometric modelling assumptions. The paper further presents novel multi-variant evidence supporting that contested elections with strong oppositions as well as effective policy implementing institutions may act as intervening institutional mechanisms that explain a part of democracy's association with rural electricity provision. Higher income per capita, national savings and population densities may further foster rural electrification, while high foreign aid shares of GDP and rural population percentages may pose challenges to access equality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-129
JournalEnergy for Sustainable Development
Issue numberOctober 2016
Early online date17 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


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